Not long until the Ironman World Championships now and there will be a fair few Precision Hydration athletes toeing the line in Kona. (You'll be able to spot them as they'll be wearing this t-shirt - if you've qualified and want one, let us know).
This is the first in a series of interviews we're doing with PH drinkers bound for the Big Island about how they qualified and how they're getting ready for the race of the year. Ali Rowatt races for Team Freespeed, a team used to bagging Kona podiums including a couple from Ali herself in 2013 and last year. She was also age group champ at IM Nice in 2014, Amateur champ in Wiesbaden in 2013 and 4th overall at IM 70.3 Barcelona this year. We managed to rope her in to do the first Countdown to Kona interview...
So, Ali, where did you qualify and how did the race go?
I qualified at Ironman Zurich. The race didn't go quite to plan as it was a wetsuit swim (although the water temperature was 24.9 degs) and while I was delighted about this at the time (I'm a weak swimmer and the wetsuit really helps me), I didn't think about the repercussions of swimming for an hour in warm water in a wetsuit. I came out of the swim very dehydrated (although I didn't realise this at the time) and I didn't take on enough fluid to compensate for this in the early stages of the bike ride. By the second half of the bike I was struggling to eat or drink so it didn't make for a very pretty marathon. At the end of the race I needed 2 IVs and it wasn't until the next day that I was able to eat properly again, which is not good for recovery!
First Timer or Kona Veteran?
I've done Kona 3 times now, this will be my fourth year in a row.
(We've already mentioned Ali's Kona podiums above. Last year she came 2nd in the 30-34 AG and was 3rd female age group athlete overall in a time of 9:57:43...)
Podium or Just for Fun?
I always want to do well when I race, but you can't control how others do. If I can execute a good swim/bike/run and get my nutrition right, I will be happy - if that means a podium spot then all the better!
What are you looking forward to most?
The sunshine and dolphin spotting!
That's Ali on the top step in Scotland recently. No sunshine and dolphins there.
Are you (will you be) doing any heat acclimation training?
Nothing more than layering up when I'm on the turbo...
How else are you adapting your training in these final weeks before the race?
I don't adapt training too much. There's only so much you can do when you're training in Scotland for a race in Hawaii so I try to focus on getting in good sessions in order to be as fit as I possibly can be out there and I try to use the 10 days before the race to acclimatise as much as possible.
Another podium shot. Because there are lots.
How will you be managing your taper?
I follow the same taper that I have used for each Kona, which takes into account the travel and acclimatising when I am there. I like to travel out there about 10 days before the race and have a couple of easier days once I arrive so I can recover from the travel.
Once I'm out there I don't try to do a massive amount of training, but rather rest up and try to get used to the heat.
What’s your Kona hydration strategy? What do you do differently to hydrate in hot climates?
Although I was disappointed with my race in Zurich, I learned so much from it and I'm excited to use what I learnt there and put it into practice in Kona.
Following Zurich I sought help from the experts (aka you guys!) and was keen to try out your natural electrolyte mix sachets. These really appealed to me on a number of levels but mostly because they were all-natural, so you don't get the nasty aftertaste that you can get from a lot of the other sports mixes.
As well as the electrolytes they also have a bit of carbohydrate in them which was a big plus for me - as I often struggle to eat on the bike - so any calories I can get when I am drinking is a good thing for me.
I tested these out at the Scottish Middle Distance Championships (Ali won the race...) and was really impressed. They were easy to drink, good on my stomach and I felt hydrated throughout the whole race. Obviously there's a big difference between Scotland and Hawaii in terms of conditions, so I will use the stronger sachets for Hawaii (the 1000s). I will also use the super concentrated 1500mg pre loading sachets the day before the race and a final sachet the morning of the race to ensure I'm fully topped up going into the start.
I think the most important thing about going into a hot race is to ensure you start in as good a state as you can and then keep topping up. The biggest thing I learnt from Zurich was not to allow myself to get so dehydrated in the first place as it then becomes virtually impossible to get back on top of the hydration and nutrition. If I can stay on top of it throughout the race, constantly sipping at my bottles and eating when I can, I should be in a much better place come the marathon!
One of Ali hover-running...
How will you fuel up before and during the race?
For dinner the night before the race, I like to have something quite simple - fresh fish or chicken, vegetables and rice.
The day before the race I will use a 1500 sachet and then another sachet in the morning before the race. During the race I will start with 2 bottles, each with a 1000 sachet and I will take a few of the 1000 tabs with me to add to water from aid stations when I need to top up. To eat, I will have Clif Bars and Clif Shot Bloks on the bike and Clif gels on the run.
Do you have any pre race superstitions that you’ll be maintaining on the Big Island?
I always have the same breakfast 3 hours before the race - a toasted bagel with jam and a large coffee.
Awesome, well thanks Ali and fingers crossed for another great result for you in Hawaii.
You can follow Ali on Twitter.